Recently my family and I spent a night at Darien Lake Theme Park & Resort, an amusement park I grew up going to, but had never previously stayed at. Stay on-site was definitely a different experience.
When we first arrived we went through the lodging gate and were directed to the “Lodge on the Lake,” where we would be staying. When we walked in we were greeted by the very friendly front desk staff, which helped us with an easy check-in. The lobby was decorated in rustic cabin style with log beams, chairs, couches and coffee tables. There were also modern touches such as a large flat screen TV mounted on the wall in the first floor seating area. In the lobby there was a small gift shop that sold the little things that you may have left behind, as well as a few souvenirs. We were able to get a sweatshirt for my youngest son (miscommunication resulted in us leaving his jacket at home and it was a chilly couple days!) and a small back pack to carry our stuff around for less than you would pay inside the park itself.
The lodge itself was a pretty standard hotel. Most of the rooms were standard double queens with a sleeper sofa and would easily sleep 6 people. There are some new family suites with extras, but we slept in a standard room facing the parking lot. It was obvious that the hotel was just a place to rest in between going to the park. There wasn’t much in the hotel itself, and though the room was equipped with wi-fi, there was no desk to set up at. Another downfall, in my opinion, was the fact that there was no information binder. When we go to hotels one of the first things we do is look through the binder and find information about the hotel (numbers, etc), and things to do around the area, places to eat, etc. To their credit, when you first check-in the staff does give you a paper telling you what’s happening at the park while you’re there, but not much else. Putting all that aside, it was a comfortable night’s sleep and it was great to be able to walk from the park to the hotel whenever we wanted to take a little rest. It was also great not to have to go far (as in an hour drive after waiting in a long line of traffic) after the laser light show. We just enjoyed the night as we meandered our way back to the hotel and up to our room.
Other Onsite Lodging Options
The hotel was clean, the staff was friendly, and the amenities weren’t completely lacking, so if you’re looking to spend a couple days at the park and need a place to relax and sleep, then the hotel is not a bad option. I, however, would prefer to stay in the campground where you can drive an RV or pop-up, or pitch a tent. Better yet, I would love to have stayed in their new Black Bear Cabins. I was given a tour of one of the cabins on the lake, and I was told about the new ones that are in the process of being built. The cabins are great for a large family. When you first walk in you are greeted by two queen beds, both with captain’s drawers underneath for storage. In that main area there’s also a corner fireplace with a flat screen TV above, a kitchen area with a small fridge, stove, sink, counter and cabinets, and a ladder to the loft up above which is perfect for older children. There’s a small hallway that leads to the bathroom, shower, and bunk room which has a bunk bed and built in dressers. On the outside there’s a small porch complete with table and chairs. You also have access to your own grill and picnic table. The view is beautiful as all the cabins at the moment are right on the lake. The new cabins they’re building are a little farther from the lake and are being built in a circle around a grassy area. When the project is finished there will be a playground in the middle. This new area would be perfect for those families with smaller children who don’t want to be right on the lake.
The first day we were there my kids and my husband braved the chilly air and swam in the larger of the two pools that were right behind the hotel while I relaxed in a lounge chair watching them. The larger pool was 3 feet to 5 feet deep, and the other was a small kiddie pool. Both pools had their own on duty lifeguards. The pool area was gated, and as soon as we walked through the gate we saw two bins. In one there were clean pool towels (which you leave in yet another bin on your way out), and in the other there were life jackets for the kids. I loved the idea of the life jackets, because my youngest son (age 4) was a lot more confident in the water. He even let my daughter (age 7) help him float on his back (something he hates normally).
Woody’s Café, a small café in the lounge, sells breakfast foods, pizza, and drinks, as well as a few other items. We ate there for breakfast the second day, but we wished we hadn’t. The food was nothing to write home about, and you didn’t get much for the money you paid. Between the 5 of us we bought 4 breakfast sandwiches, a bowl of cereal and milk, 2 orange juices, and, as my daughter calls it, a “fake coffee” (from the cappuccino machine). It ended up costing us more than it would for all of us to eat breakfast at McDonalds, and we would have had more food at McDonalds! There were not many options to choose from for breakfast in the area, just Woody’s and a restaurant in the park itself, so we didn’t have much of a choice in the matter.
The restaurant inside the park is called Beaver Brothers Lakeside Cafe. We ate there for dinner the first night and thought it was pretty pricey (it came out to be just over $10 per person, and three of those were children 7 and under), but thankfully the food was good which helped us feel better about the expense. We did find the menu a little lacking though. They had the normal kids meals that you would find most places, but for adults there wasn’t much to choose from; a pasta dish, a couple burgers and sandwiches, but not much else. My husband and I both opted for the pasta dish, his with chicken, and mine with shrimp. For a family of our size, two adults and three kids, I would definitely recommend just ordering a pizza, which is what we did for lunch the next day.
In my opinion, the park is a must. I could go on and on about why I love it. Staying overnight at the park is something I would recommend trying, even just once. As I said in the beginning, it was a different experience for us. Normally when we go we get there in the morning when it first opens, spend the day, and then drive home. We try to pack in as much as we can in one day, and often have to search for places to relax. When we stayed on resort property, our experience felt more relaxed, and we were able to find complete comfort whenever we wanted.
“This review is based on a complimentary stay at Darien Lakes Resort. I received no other compensation besides the hotel stay, and the hotel did not state any requirements
that I express a particular point of view.”